Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the foregoing message we saw that the promise is versus the law. In this message we shall see that faith replaces law.
In 3:5 Paul asks, “He therefore Who is supplying to you the Spirit and doing works of power among you, is it by the works of law or by the hearing of faith?” The Spirit in this verse is the all-inclusive, compound Spirit, typified by the compound ointment in Exodus 30:23-25. It is the Spirit mentioned in John 7:39, who is the life-imparting Christ in resurrection. This Spirit is the bountiful supply to the believers in God’s New Testament economy. We receive this Spirit not by the works of law, but by faith in the crucified and glorified Christ.
In verse 6 Paul goes on to say, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” The bewitched Galatians, by drifting back to the law, were clinging to Moses, through whom the law was given. But Paul referred them to Abraham, who was the father of faith. Faith was of God’s original economy; the law was later added because of transgressions (v. 19). After Christ fulfilled the law through His death, God wanted His people to return to His original economy. With Abraham it was not a matter of keeping the law, but a matter of believing God. It should be so with all the New Testament believers.
In verses 9 and 10 Paul says, “So that they who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. For as many as are of the works of law are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all the things written in the book of the law to do them.” Faith in Christ brings us into the blessing God promised to Abraham, which is the promise of the Spirit (v. 14). This faith had brought the Galatian believers into the blessing in Christ. They were enjoying the grace of life in the Spirit. But the Judaizers bewitched them and caused them to come under the curse of the law, thus depriving them of the enjoyment of Christ and causing them to fall from grace (5:4).
According to verse 8, the promise God gave to Abraham, “In you all nations shall be blessed,” was the gospel. It was preached to him not only before the accomplishing of redemption by Christ, but also before the giving of the law through Moses. What God promised to Abraham corresponds to what God accomplished in Christ, which is the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. The New Testament economy is a continuation of His dealing with Abraham and has nothing to do with the law of Moses. All the New Testament believers should be in this continuation and should have nothing to do with the law given through Moses.
Law was the principle according to which God dealt with His people in the Old Testament economy. In dealing with the children of Israel according to the law, God dealt with them through the tabernacle with the priesthood and the offerings. On the one hand, He dealt with them according to the law; on the other hand, He dealt with them through the tabernacle. After the giving of the law, God came to dwell in the tabernacle. At the end of the book of Exodus, the tabernacle was set up. Then at the very beginning of Leviticus, we see that God spoke from within the tent of meeting. God was hidden within the tabernacle and spoke in the tabernacle. Thus, God dealt with His people from within the tabernacle, through the tabernacle, and according to the law.
Suppose an Israelite committed a certain sin. According to the law, that one had to be condemned, perhaps even put to death. The law exposed his sin and condemned him. However, the sinner could present a trespass offering, which was then offered on the altar by the priest. In this way the one who had sinned could be forgiven. After the law exposed and condemned him, it brought him to the tabernacle through the altar. This indicates that the law first exposes us and then brings us unto Christ. If there had been no law to condemn the people, there would have been no need of redemption. We need redemption because we are under the condemnation of the law. By exposing and condemning us, the law brings us to Christ.
The law is a custodian which keeps sinners by condemning them. Apart from the law’s condemnation, it could not function as a custodian. Without the law’s exposure and condemnation, we cannot realize how many sins we have committed against God. Without the law, we would be without regulation or restriction. But because the law condemns us, we are kept by the law.
In keeping us by condemning us, the law brings us to Christ. In the Old Testament, an Israelite who had sinned was condemned by the law and required to bring a trespass offering. The law functioned as a custodian to bring the sinning Israelite to Christ, his Redeemer, typified by the trespass offering. In this way the law keeps us and brings us to Christ.
On the one hand, Paul put the law in the position of Hagar, Abraham’s concubine. On the other hand, the law has a positive position, that of a custodian to keep us and that of a child-conductor to bring us to Christ. We should not return to the law. To do this is to go to Hagar. However, we should not despise the law either, for it serves as a warden to care for those who are weak or childish. In its role as a child-conductor, the law takes care of the child. It does this by convicting, judging, condemning, and exposing the child. When the child is tempted to do something wrong, the law rebukes him and condemns him in order to keep him and to bring him to the proper place. Therefore, by exposing us and condemning us, the law serves as a child-conductor to bring us to Christ.
We have pointed out that the law was the basic principle according to which God dealt with His people in the Old Testament. If it were not for the law, not many of the children of Israel would have come to the altar with a trespass offering. Because the law exposed them and condemned them, they realized their need to come to the altar with the required offering. In this, the law is very useful to God. Although God dealt with His people according to the law, He did not deal with them through the law, but dealt with them through the tabernacle.
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